Most Standup Comedy Is Garbage

by robinhardwick

As much of a fan of comedy as I am, I really dislike standup comedy. I cringe through most of the acts where people stumble through their insecurities with sex, how men and women are different, and then just plain boring, uninteresting stuff. I don’t have a lot of patience for standup, and watching an open mic night may make me cringe so hard I’m in danger of turning myself inside out.

For example, someone please explain this to me:

Point being, it’s worth noting when I see a really original, funny standup set. I’ve been a fan of Dan Telfer, I follow him on social mediums, so I must have heard him on a podcast or something at one time or another. I stumbled across this charming clip from The Pete Holmes Show (don’t get me started on Pete Holmes):

Firstly, talking about dinosaurs gives it a childlike wonder that’s not stupid. Soliciting ideas from the audience and then riffing on it is impressive (although obviously anticipated what they were going to say), plus his general presence makes me wish this is what I’d get from a standup show most of the time, instead of women saying how bad they are at dating. Well done, sir.

Of course, I have to mention the worst stand-up show I ever saw: it was a showcase featuring Asian-American women. On the one hand, great for supporting this population of whom you don’t see a lot in comedy, but blech for “othering” these women and relegating them to a ‘specialty” show. Also, the women were not that experienced nor good. So, the first women, who was Vietnamese-American, talked about her Vietnamese friends and how they act. And then talked about how Japanese women hate Vietnamese women. The next comic was Pillipino-American, did an impression of her heavily accented mother, and talked about how Vietnamese women disliked Pillipino women. The next woman was Korean-American and…so on and so on.

Was this the fault of the women? No, and they didn’t plan on making their acts similar. However, as Asian-American women, the most salient thing was talking about their experiences as being Asian American women in society, which is great- or, really, was that what they were expected to do in their act, considering their identity is what audiences would expect them to talk about. White comedians have the whole world of topics at their fingertips (yet still mostly choose to talk about their genitals), and comedians of color are somehow always expected to comment on their race.

Also, the audience was all white people. So that added a layer of…whatever this show was. I did say it was the worst show, not necessarily because of any of the comics, but because of the situation. Also, it was in a back room of a shitty restaurant with shitty chairs.

have I ever considered stand-up? Why yes, I also took a “class” on the subject. I even wrote a tight 5 minutes. Topics included:

  • Everyone’s obsession with sexy vampires
  • Being rejected as a volunteer at the free clinic
  • backhanded compliments

So, yea. I hated it. I hated saying the same thing each time but having to tweak just one little inflection. Will I try it again? My ego says yes. Someday. I’ve got some great material about VHS tapes.